Sustainable energy solutions

Written by Vernon Cheung

January 31, 2019

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have had to deal with hikes in VAT and petrol during the past year, along with current decreased consumer spending, so load shedding, water restrictions and news of electricity hikes really add to the financial burden of trying to make a business work.

It has never been more critical than it is right now for business owners to find sustainable energy solutions.

“For those who took their chances with the last round of nationwide load shedding as well as water restrictions, and held back on purchasing equipment for standby and off-the-grid measures, now might be the time to make those investments,” says Karl Westvig, CEO of SME funder Retail Capital. “Many business owners are approaching us to take funding for these capital expenses.”

According to the company’s chief brand officer, Erin Louw: “Business owners should now be thinking about making long-term investments like those who invested in gas and solar solutions during the power crisis a few years ago and who are now at a distinct advantage. We all thought that we’d seen the last of the load-shedding schedules, but they are likely to be back in full force.”

“Consumers are making more use of ready-made meals, takeaways and deli food during load shedding schedules due to those consumers not being able to make their own food at home,” she adds.

In the ongoing battle for resources, SMEs are the ones that are impacted the most, notes Louw: “It is vital to invest in sustainable off-grid solutions such as gas, generators and solar or battery backup in order to keep the doors open and critical electrical appliances running, as well as to continuously explore and initiate water saving measures.”

“Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and back-up power inverter systems that keep tills and computers running should also be considered,” advises Louw. “Even if you have a generator, it can take a few seconds to kick in once the power goes down. But a UPS will bridge the gap and reduce the risk to vital equipment that can be severely damaged during sudden power outages.”

Most SMEs in a shopping centre don’t have the space to run a generator and are not covered by the central generators that are mostly dedicated to anchor tenants and essential services within the centre. Battery backup systems and UPSs are therefore ideal to overcome load shedding and helps businesses to continue trading.

Another benefit of UPSs is that they protect essential electrical equipment against power spikes and fluctuations that comes with load shedding or unstable grid supply. If a business has the opportunity in terms of access to roof space on which to install solar panels, this solution will also lower their monthly electricity bill in order to cover most of the monthly installment of such a system.

“The move towards sustainable resource solutions is now no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ but a ‘must have’, and it is essential that business owners take that investment step towards operating fluidly when the lights go out or water restrictions kick in again,” concludes Louw.

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